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Through advocacy work, community and professional events, and media outreach, Veritas is helping to bring cutting-edge research, best-practice care, and scientifically backed information into the national eating disorder conversation. Here in our blog you can learn about the work we and others are doing to advance the understanding and treatment of eating disorders. You’ll also find interesting articles and helpful insights that can support you or a loved one on the journey to lasting recovery. We want to hear your story. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask how you can become a contributor!
Sports can have an incredibly positive effect on people’s lives, promoting social connection, self-confidence, and skills in teamwork and leadership. However, athletes also grapple with unique challenges, particularly when it comes to their relationship with food and their bodies. Research has shown that participation in sports can trigger or exacerbate eating disorders in those who are susceptible.
Read on to learn why athletes are at special risk of developing eating disorders, the signs to watch out for, and how these disorders can affect athletic performance.
Your discharge from eating disorder treatment is in your rearview vision, and it shows. Your relationships with food, eating, and your body are in a markedly better place. You’re working daily to rebuild self-trust and compassion, and your connections with friends and family feel richer for it. You’re carving a personal identity entirely separate from your illness, returning to long-abandoned hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and goal-setting for the future. Life isn’t perfect, but you’re engaging with it in a way you never believed was possible when your eating disorder hijacked your time, thoughts, energy, and attention.
You’ve heard time and again that eating disorder recovery is a nonlinear journey. In fact, you’re told, the work is far from finished once your program ends. Even with the added meaning that recovery has injected into your life, you’re encountering your fair share of challenges and related intrusive thoughts. You want to continue on the path of your new life, but these struggles make you anxious about slipping back into disordered habits. It seems triggers can’t be escaped or ignored—how can you manage the urges that follow?
**Content warning: This episode includes discussions around suicidal thinking and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Please use your discretion when listening and speak with your support system as needed. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are resources that can help. Contact the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by texting or calling 988.
In Episode 85 of Peace Meal, we heard from Holly Thorssen about her experience parenting her daughter Madison through an eating disorder. Today, we pass the microphone to Madison, who tells us her recovery story in her own words. Madison begins by recounting her life with an eating disorder. As is often the case, her illness was all-consuming, depleting her ability to be fully present, clouding her values and belief system, and offering a sense of false happiness. At age 12, Madison experienced a barrage of depressive symptoms, which she connects to the onset of her disordered eating. In the absence of healthy coping skills, Madison’s eating disorder numbed her inner pain and released the emotional pressure of her depression.
Entering treatment at The Emily Program marked a shift in Madison’s recovery resistance. She emphasizes the impact of a whole-person care model and shares several takeaways from treatment that have been helpful to her healing. Reflecting on the adversities of her mental health journey, Madison explains why she’s fired up about enacting policy change that supports compassionate, individualized, evidence-based care so that no one feels hopeless about their mental health. Says Madison, “There’s always hope.”
You don’t know what to do. You’ve never had to worry about your twelve-year-old son before. His school report cards consistently reflect his conscientiousness, situating him comfortably at the top of his classes. He demonstrates the same drive outside the classroom, where he’s established himself as a dependable scorer for the school’s soccer team.
But something’s been off lately, giving you a gnawing feeling in your gut. Your son seems to be regressing to the picky eating of his childhood. His palette is increasingly limited these days, and he alleges digestive problems when asked to gather with the family for dinner. He used to have a tight-knit group of friends, but recently has been declining birthday party invitations and isolating himself. His soccer coach has called you and suggested your son take a leave from the team—he fainted during this evening’s practice.
You know you need to act, but you’re facing pushback from your son. He meets your concerns with heightened defensiveness, firmly denying that anything is wrong. He’s doubling down on his already rigid study schedule, convinced that any disruptions will derail his high-achieving track. You understand that school can wait, but you’re struggling to get your son on board with taking the time for treatment. Is it possible his reaction and this resistance are related to his unusual food behaviors? You reason it would be easier for him to continue his top performance if he wasn’t battling these food issues, but you can’t be sure. You need guidance from those who have walked this path before—that’s where we come in.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Emerald Smith (she/her), and I am the Clinical Director at the Child, Adolescent, and Adult Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor – Qualified Supervisor (LCMHC-QS), a Board-Certified Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC), and a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (200 RYT). I have been with Veritas Collaborative for three years.
We are pleased to share that Veritas Collaborative’s Triangle Outpatient Center in Durham, North Carolina, has opened its doors! At this new facility, children, adolescents, and adults of all genders can access our individualized, best-practice outpatient eating disorder services in a warm and inclusive environment.
Unlike some other mental health diagnoses, eating disorders have a high prevalence of associated medical complications. In fact, eating disorders are responsible for more than 3 million lost healthy years annually worldwide and are the second deadliest of all psychiatric diagnoses, second only to opioid use disorder.
Virtually every organ and system in the human body can be impacted by disordered eating, with effects ranging from mild to severely debilitating—and even life-threatening—depending on the duration and intensity of the illness.
As with all eating disorder-related complications, intervening early and connecting with a specialty care team are key to mitigating the risks of lasting physical damage.
Kathryn Garland and Vanessa Scaringi join Peace Meal to discuss the connection between attachment styles and the development and maintenance of eating disorders. They first provide an overview of attachment theory, exploring how this framework can help us better understand the impact of early attachment experiences on our relationships with food and ourselves. Insecure attachment styles, they explain, are associated with eating disorders and can manifest in disordered behaviors and thoughts. Kathryn and Vanessa share how therapists can help patients address attachment-related issues and nurture secure connections with family and friends that support recovery.
Kathryn and Vanessa also dive into the impact of the pandemic on our ability to connect with others, which in turn has played a role in exacerbating disordered eating behaviors. In addition, they explain how a relational approach to eating disorder care can complement other treatment modalities, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). They end the episode by stressing the importance of connection to good mental health and encouraging those in recovery to take the time they need to nurture their relationships, both with others and themselves.
Healing from an eating disorder doesn’t end with your discharge from treatment. That’s why it’s so important that eating disorder care helps patients develop effective coping strategies, self-care practices, and emotion regulation skills to use long after formal treatment ends. Transitioning from specialized eating disorder care into the “real world” can be jarring. Equipping patients with the tools and confidence to navigate life’s inevitable challenges ensures their recovery begins with a solid foundation.
Both yoga and mindfulness are tools that support the reconnection to mind and body essential in eating disorder treatment. They also protect a continuing recovery, offering patients accessible grounding techniques to confront urges and stressful moments. At Veritas Collaborative, we integrate yoga and mindfulness as holistic, skill-based therapies within our evidence-based treatment model.
Given the mainstream popularity of yoga and mindfulness, it’s critical to differentiate eating disorder-informed practices from the more insidious variations of yoga and mindfulness that have been commodified by wellness culture.
We are excited to announce that Veritas Collaborative is now accepting patients for virtual outpatient therapy in South Carolina! With this expansion to South Carolina, we’ll increase access to specialty eating disorder treatment in the Southeast, ensuring that more people who need care can receive it. Virtual eating disorder treatment in South Carolina is available for children, adolescents, and adults of any gender.
Virtual therapy sessions take place via a secure video connection and provide the same structure and support as traditional in-person treatment. Virtual eating disorder treatment also offers flexibility to those who live far from one of our treatment centers or require a treatment option that fits into their busy schedules. Outpatient care is ideal for those who are medically stable but in need of ongoing support for their eating disorder for lasting recovery.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Shamane McAdams (she/her), and I am a Behavioral Health Technician (BHT) Manager at Veritas Collaborative’s Child and Adolescent Treatment Center in Durham, North Carolina. I have been working with Veritas for over six years! Fun fact: my first day of work was also my birthday! It remains the only year I have ever worked on my birthday.
What does a typical day look like for you at Veritas Collaborative?
There is no typical day for me! I usually jump from meeting to meeting, problem-solve clinical staff challenges related to patient needs, train new hires, and check in with my staff on urgent items that need addressing.
It’s not unusual to experience some selectiveness around food. Many people have allergies that limit their food choices, others are naturally drawn to certain flavors or textures, and most of us likely demonstrated a degree of pickiness in childhood.
But what happens when these food preferences begin to erode your quality of life? When eating becomes increasingly narrowed in food variety and/or restrictiveness of overall intake that it leads to weight loss or unmet growth expectations, nutritional deficiencies, dependence on caloric supplements or tube feeding, and/or marked interference with psychosocial functioning, it could indicate the presence of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).
Misconceptions and insufficient research on ARFID can make it difficult for those struggling to find appropriate, supportive care. ARFID is a serious mental illness—it’s not just “picky eating,” a passing “phase,” or a choice, and it needs timely, specialized, evidence-based treatment that effectively addresses its unique considerations.
You’ve braved the back-to-school aisles of your local retailer, reviewed your child’s class and activities schedule, established a transportation plan, and helped select a perfect first-day-of-class outfit. Whether school is already back in session for your family or your household is buzzing with first-day jitters, navigating back to school means working with your child to set them up for a successful school year.
If your child is navigating this school year with an eating disorder, how you define “success” won’t be limited to their academic performance. Rather, success means preserving their recovery during the transition into a new school year.
This season brings to the forefront the influence of body image and eating triggers distinct to the school environment. While it’s not uncommon for eating disorder behaviors to be triggered or worsened by periods of transition, your support and preparation as a parent can make all the difference in ensuring this school year is one that centers your child’s recovery.
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Isadora G. (she/her) is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she studied psychology and sociology. During her senior year, she worked at an all-female residential mental health facility, which solidified her passion for working in mental health care. She is a recovery peer mentor for ANAD and has been in eating disorder recovery for over three years.
Perhaps your body has been on your mind more than ever recently. And it’s not just the typical pressure to be thin that diet culture fuels year-round. This feels persistent and compulsive, demanding a significant amount of your daily mental energy.
Or maybe your relationship with food is causing you uncertainty and stress. You find yourself skipping out on family dinners or declining birthday invitations from friends, instead preferring to eat alone or in secret—and often to the point of physical discomfort.
If your relationship with your body and food is becoming increasingly disordered, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed about the next steps. Eating disorders comprise a cluster of symptoms, measured according to physical and mental health complications, severity and frequency, and the number of behaviors. If your observed disordered habits have negatively impacted your health and monopolized your life and daily functioning, they’ve probably tipped into eating disorder territory. Our Eating Disorder Assessment Quiz will let you know whether additional evaluation is needed.
Countless studies over recent years add up to a concerning reality: eating disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent among young people. According to a JAMA Pediatrics review released in early 2023, one out of every five children worldwide displays symptoms of disordered eating. Not only are patients being diagnosed with eating disorders at ages younger than ever before, but they’re also coming into eating disorder-related health visits with more severe mental and physical symptoms (CDC). We know that childhood and adolescence are critical periods of growth and development, adding gravity to the role of providers in screening and intervening effectively and early to limit the eating disorder’s potential for irreversible consequences.
Given this urgency, as a provider, what should you be looking out for when meeting with child or adolescent patients? How can you ensure that your eating disorder screening is informed, comprehensive, and age-appropriate? Here, we hope to equip you with a deeper understanding of the importance of early intervention, common signs of eating disorders in children and adolescents, and how to respond if you suspect your young patient is struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating.
In this episode of Peace Meal, Holly Thorssen recounts her experience of mothering her daughter Madison through an eating disorder. Holly walks us through the course of Madison’s illness, noting the warning signs of Madison’s struggles with food and body, and sharing the family’s efforts to find a suitable treatment provider. Holly acknowledges the importance of building a supportive, judgment-free space when discussing eating concerns with a child – a space where your child can feel safe enough to disclose their emotions and struggles without fear or shame. In a poignant moment of reflection, Holly speaks on how she learned to differentiate Madison’s voice from the voice of the eating disorder, leading to a better understanding of Madison’s conflicting desire to get better while also resisting change. Connecting with The Emily Program’s family-oriented specialty care made all the difference for Holly and Madison, offering much-needed comfort and healing for both mother and daughter.
Elouise Cram is a therapist at Veritas Collaborative’s Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. She obtained her MSW from the University of South Carolina in 2020. She was thrilled to join the Veritas Collaborative team in 2022 after working at an eating disorder treatment center in the Midwest. She appreciates bringing the values of curiosity, willingness, and collaboration into her therapeutic approach with adults and adolescents in the Charlotte program. When not at work, she can most likely be found listening to Maggie Rogers or cuddling with her poodle, Poppy.
Every clinician is familiar with the exciting, empowering, occasionally frustrating “rubber hits the road” moments we see in early and sustained eating disorder recovery. We hold space for, push for, and model not just wanting recovery but actively moving toward recovery every day. We are holding space for the people we work with to not just “talk the talk” of recovery, but also “walk the walk” of a recovery-oriented life. When I am struggling to hold both (for myself and for others) of talking and walking at the same time, I’m reminded of a principle of dialectical behavior therapy: individuals are doing the best they can and individuals can always do better.
Chelsea Brown, MSW, LCSW, is a PHP therapist at Veritas Collaborative’s Charlotte, North Carolina site. She received her undergraduate degree in sociology at East Carolina University and pursued her Master of Social Work from there as well in 2017. Since starting in the field, Chelsea has gained training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Chelsea worked on her clinical social work licensure from 2017 to 2019 and has utilized her supervision to gain knowledge around clinical and behavioral diagnosis while in the field.
Chelsea has worked within diverse socioeconomic groups that have helped foster her person-centered approach to treatment and building therapeutic rapport. She has mainly worked with the adolescent population in addressing behaviors and coping skills, as well as with parental approaches to increasing support and guidance in parenting skills. Chelsea has also worked with young adults through their transitional phases from adolescents to adulthood.
In this blog, Chelsea shares her perspective on BIPOC Mental Health Month, offering valuable insights into the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health issues within the BIPOC community.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Elaina Williams (she/her), and I have been a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Veritas Collaborative’s Child and Adolescent Treatment Center in Durham, NC, for over six years.
What does a typical day look like for you at Veritas Collaborative?
I get to come to work to see my patients for medical visits each day. The more acute patients (meaning more medically unstable) within inpatient care are seen by me or my team daily. I see the patients within lower levels of care weekly and as needed for medical complaints (like ear pain, rashes, throat discomfort, etc.). I usually chat with the patients for a little while about medical concerns, as well as what they are struggling with during treatment (I love chatting!). After we chat, I do an exam and enter any appropriate medical orders. I also get to collaborate with other team members in setting goals and individualizing care so that we can together help patients heal and move toward discharge from treatment!